Jonathan Wilson
"Frankie Ray"

(Koch Records 2007)Jonathan Wilson - Frankie Ray

Who is Jonathan Wilson? Even after several listens to Wilson's "Frankie Ray" the question still begs to be asked. With a hushed voice, often breathy, the ex-Muscadine member sings over quiet, somber melodies that can vary from charmingly romantic to absolutely heartbreaking. It is Wilson's modesty, his understated music, which fills "Frankie Ray" and leaves you with feelings of intrigue to hear more of his songs that blend folk, indie and country for a unique result.

It is a mesmerizing melody, with its low key beauty, that sweeps gently in on "El Matador" before leaving more forcefully, full of intensity. Wilson manages to sneak in a cover of The Beatles' "I'm Looking Through You" at the end of "Masters In China" that is so compelling you would almost think he wrote it. "I've been listening to your records for a while," Wilson admits to a nameless muse on the bouncy and loud, at least relatively so, "You Can Have Me." Similarly, Wilson fills out the ghostly outlines he has laid out throughout "Frankie Ray" on "Dreaming" with a warm, full alt country sound.

Wilson makes one thing clear about himself on "Frankie Ray" and that is that he is no pop singer/songwriter. Memorable and always likable melodies flow throughout the album but always have a twist to them that makes them decidedly alternative. There is plenty of Ryan Adams and even a little Bob Dylan in Wilson but the comparisons are slight. Jonathan Wilson reveals himself, while still remaining mysterious, on "Frankie Ray."